The Wotton Beacon: St Mary’s Church goes blue in solidarity with key workers

As a show of support and solidarity for the NHS, St Mary’s Church was lit up bright blue on Thursday evening.

The illuminations were the brainchild of Wottonian Joe Hall, who arranged the display with help from the St Mary’s Churchwardens.

Joe, who works for SXS Events in Bristol, said he came up with the concept after he began going on more walks in the area due to restrictions resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “During the lockdown I’ve been spending a lot more time walking and going round the countryside.

“While I was walking I thought ‘What can I do to show support for those on the frontline during the lockdown?’

“I decided that St Mary’s would be the best place to do something because it’s really visible, you can see it from miles away. And I thought that if I could light up the church like a beacon that would be great.”

Having both the concept of lighting up the church and the means to do so, Joe asked his boss at SXS if he could use some of their equipment to brighten the town’s spirits.

Afterwards he approached his father Vince Hall, who is involved with St Mary’s, about taking his idea further.

Jackie Excell, one of St. Mary’s Churchwardens, said: “When we received the unusual request as he put it from Joe’s father Vince to light up the tower in blue I was quite blown away by the amazing enthusiasm and vision this young man showed.

“We felt this would be fantastic, not just for the NHS who have given so much during this pandemic but all the front line workers at this very difficult time who are having to cope with such heavy loss of life.

“It’s the outreach from St Mary’s Church into the community.”

From here the Churchwardens presented the idea to the Parish Council Committee, who unanimously approved it, giving the go-ahead for illuminations on Thursday May 14.

Jackie added: “It was not all plain sailing as we had to get permission from the diocese to get the power connection, thankfully they gave permission with full consent saying it was an amazing project to do.

“We are most grateful to Joe for his enthusiasm and willingness to bring this to our community in Wotton.

“Seeing the blue vision from Water Lane walking towards the Church was quite humbling and an emotional experience.”

Kate Cropper, St Mary’s Benefice and Parish Administrator, said that the illumination of St. Mary’s Church tower represented a symbol of hope, honouring all those on the front line of the pandemic.

Following the success of the initial lighting of St Mary’s last Thursday, Joe lit up all four sides of the steeple last night with eight high-power floodlights.

He added: “I know some people have been concerned that if we used lasers to light the church it could interfere with planes flying overhead – we were using concentrated lights rather than lasers, so there were no issues there.

“It’s for all the key workers; the nurses, the posties, the bin men, shop workers or carers – everyone going above and beyond.”

Joe has hinted that he hopes to set up another illumination later in the summer, but wants to keep it a surprise for the town.